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Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You

Discover new ways of looking at, organizing, and interpreting tangible things in your own environment.

Start Date: Jun 02, 2014 Topics: General History, Natural History
Cost: Free

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Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You's Full Profile

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Description

About this Course Note - This is an Archived course This is a past/archived course. At this time, you can only explore this course in a self-paced fashion. Certain features of this course may not be active, but many people enjoy watching the videos and working with the materials. Make sure to check for reruns of this course. People make history through the things they gather, create, collect, exhibit, exchange, throw away, or ignore. Over four centuries, Harvard University has amassed an astonishing array of tangible things—books and manuscripts, art works, scientific specimens, ethnographic artifacts, and historical relics of all sorts. The university not only owns a Gutenberg bible, it also cares for Turkish sun dials, a Chinese crystal ball, a divination basket from Angola, and nineteenth-century “spirit writing” chalked on a child-sized slate. Tucked away in storage cabinets or hidden in closets and the backrooms of its museums and libraries are Henry David Thoreau’s pencil, a life mask of Abraham Lincoln, and chemicals captured from a Confederate ship. The Art Museums not only care for masterpieces of Renaissance painting but for a silver-encrusted cup made from a coconut. The Natural History museums not only preserve dinosaur bones and a fish robot but an intact Mexican tortilla more than a century old. By learning how and why such things got here, you will discover how material objects have shaped academic disciplines and reinforced or challenged boundaries between people. While this course will not draw on all of these items, it will highlight several to give students a sense of the power of learning through tangible things. In the first section we will consider how a statue, a fish, and a gingham gown have contributed to Harvard’s history, and you will learn the importance of stopping to look at the things around you. In the next section we will explore some of the ways people have brought things together into purposeful collections to preserve memory, promote commerce, and define culture. Finally, we will consider ways of rearranging objects to create new ways of thinking about nature, time, and ordinary work. Along the way you will discover new ways of looking at, organizing, and interpreting tangible things in your own environment. HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.

Details

  • Dates: Jun 02, 2014
  • Days of the Week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner
  • Size: Massive Open Online Course
  • Instructors: Sara Schechner, Ivan Gaskell, Sarah Carter, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
  • Cost: Free
  • Institution: EdX
  • Topics: General History, Natural History

Provider Overview

About EdX: EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.

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